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A leading designer of next-generation computer chips and a respected developer of engineering design curriculum were celebrated on June 8 as U of T Engineering’s two newest recipients of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) chairs.

Professor Kamran Behdinan (MIE) has been named the NSERC Chair in Multidisciplinary Engineering Design, while Professor Vaughn Betz (ECE) has been named the NSERC/Altera Industrial Research Chair in Programmable Silicon. Both appointments were announced on May 3.

“I want to congratulate our two new chairholders, both distinguished scholars and both great credits to this Faculty,” said U of T President David Naylor.

“These chairs not only recognize the outstanding contributions of Professors Behdinan and Betz, but they also provide much-needed resources to support their work,” said Professor Yu-Ling Cheng, Acting Dean, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

In his role, Professor Behdinan – who is also the Director of the newly established Institute for Multidisciplinary Design & Innovation in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering – will establish real-world multidisciplinary senior design projects, which will utilize industrial collaboration and support. The projects will span all nine undergraduate programs in U of T Engineering.

The establishment of multidisciplinary design projects will further unite design initiatives across the Faculty and encourage collaboration, design and innovation. The projects will encourage students to approach design on a national and international scale, addressing pressing issues such as sustainability.

Professor Betz is one of the world’s leading developers of the software that powers programmable computer chips, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), which can become any type of chip you might need. Unlike standard chips that are produced to serve one function, FPGAs can be reprogrammed based on the needs of the user at any time.

The research chair will further enable collaboration between Professor Betz and Altera, which is one of the two leading FPGA companies and has a major research and development centre located in downtown Toronto. The research results will enable both better FPGA chips and computer-assisted design software, benefiting not only FPGA companies but also the extremely wide variety of hardware designers who use FPGAs in their systems.

“Over the last decade, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has developed an international reputation for its leadership in engineering research and education. With today’s announcement, the Faculty is set to enhance the training it provides to students,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of NSERC.

Both chairholders were presented with plaques to commemorate their appointments at a reception held in the Michael E. Charles Council Chamber.

Read the original announcements of Professor Behdinan and Professor Betz’s appointments.

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